Sergino Dest: 'I am glad I play for the U.S.'

How important was it that the USA snatched 19-year-old Sergino Dest away from the Netherlands, where he grew up and has been starting for champion Ajax in his first season with the first team?

It took less than two minutes into Friday's Concacaf Champions League match for him to record an assist. Sebastian Lletget played a corner kick into the corner of the penalty area, where Dest's chip was deflected to Jordan Morris, open at the far post to put the ball away for a 1-0 lead.

"We trained on it at training. I had to be there at that point," Dest said later. "It ended up with a goal so I am happy with it. If you score early, it gives you a crazy feeling. It gives you a boost."

Indeed, the USA jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 34 minutes and it cruised to 4-1 win.

Dest started two games at left back in September, but the Mexico and Uruguay games were only friendlies. Until he played in an official competition at the senior level, like the Concacaf Nations League, Dest, who played for the USA at the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, was free to file a change of association with FIFA and switch his allegiance to the Netherlands, where he was born and raised to an American father and Dutch mother.

"Now it's official," he said. "I am glad I play for the U.S."

The feeling is mutual. Dest provided the U.S. attack a lift with his play out of right back, and he held his own marking Canada's best player, Bayern Munich teenager Alphonso Davies, who started out at left back.

"Sergino is a gamer," U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. "He’s the type of kid that shows up in a game when the bright lights are on. He has no problem performing and we haven’t really seen much like that from a player, the ability to just step up and perform like that."

A Dest header to Paul Arriola started the play that led to the second U.S. goal in the 23rd minute, and the Dutch-American almost scored late in the first half, shooting just wide of the far post after a long run through midfield.

“We’re really happy that he committed to us and you can see his overall quality on display today how calm and smart he is in some situations," added Berhalter. "It’s really going to help our program moving forward.”

Dest has sat out the October matches against Cuba and Canada while he weighed his decision. He met with representatives of both the U.S. and Dutch technical staffs. He missed the 2-0 loss to Canada in Toronto.

"I read we lost for the first time in 34 years," he said. "Let that be the last one."

Photo: Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire

6 comments about "Sergino Dest: 'I am glad I play for the U.S.'".
  1. frank schoon, November 17, 2019 at 10:39 a.m.

    It wasn't that the US snatched Dest from the Netherlands. There are just simple better players in Holland than Dest vying for the right back position of Orange. He got playing time at Ajax due to the starting right back being injured. After talking to Ronald Koeman, the coach, I think he got a better picture of where he stands in the Hierarchy of right backs when playing for "Orange" and therefore chose the US, it's that simple. He can start right away and be a star....

    He no doubt will be an addition to the US team but not to the Dutch team. He has better ball handling skills than any of our other defenders and can handle the pressure better and most importantly of all he's had the Ajax school of training....what more do you want....I wish we a few more like him, in the back but also with a little more quickness....
    I hope GB will let him play right back and not left back for that is his strength...

  2. R2 Dad, November 17, 2019 at 12:35 p.m.

    Glad he's on our team, but for ever Dest there are a couple Efrain Alvarezs out there that we lose to Mexico.

  3. frank schoon replied, November 17, 2019 at 12:51 p.m.

    R2, True, but in Dest we have a genuine Ajax player who from the first day actually was trained by the best and learned to play the game properly. We have noone ever come to our team with that backround. So far he has proven himself, but we have yet to see what he have lost in Alvarez and the other Mexicans. This will continually happen, it won't stop.

    Holland has the same problems with Moroccans who were born in Holland and grew up there but still choose to play for Morocco. Ziyech ,for one ,the Ajax player and a few others. We finally have one who plays for PSV, Ihattarrenm a 17 year old star on the squad,decided to play for Holland. 

    It is what it is. But those Mexican players we have lost have yet to prove their were a big loss. 

  4. R2 Dad replied, November 17, 2019 at 3:48 p.m.

    I think you're right, Frank. However EA has scored 4 and is in the final today. As a 10, pulling strings for El Tri is infinitely more appealing than for the USMNT. Noone in the Nats silo--including Tab-- knows what to do with a 10, yet he is flourishing for Mexico. Early days for sure, but things look promising. The big difference for EA is, he's not playing for a Mexican club. If he doesn't switch to Liga MX, he will get shut out of international play after he gets capped. Mexico has a long history of doing this. Dest, at Ajax, doesn't suffer from this same dynamic.

  5. frank schoon replied, November 17, 2019 at 5:34 p.m.

    R2, glad you reminded me of the game, just now. Brazilians are running rough shot over Mexico. I much rather would have had Holland play Brazil.  Not impressed with Mexico. Brazil looks good , NONE of the players are afraid with the ball ,they go right at you, refreshing to see that

  6. Sean Guillory, November 17, 2019 at 6:16 p.m.

    Ok but the last I checked playing in a U-17 final does not guarantee success at the men's level.  Mexico has won it before and still go out in the second round of World Cups.  Yes we are losing players to them but Dest to me is better than any of those Mexico players.

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